Setting a Summer Dress Code

It happens every year: As the weather gets hotter, employees start looking like they’re ready for Big Sur – instead of that big meeting.

Yikes. Time to set summer attire guidelines.

Why do you need a summer dress code?

Regardless of the season, your employees should present a positive image of your company. Individuals who wear clothing that’s too revealing or distracting reflects poorly on your brand.

But what your company and its employees consider “appropriate” may be two very different things. A summer dress code sets clear expectations for all parties, prevents problems and keeps the focus where it should be: on doing great work.

Tips for setting a summer dress code:

  1. Consider your company culture. Your policy should align with your corporate culture and values. Determine if your summer dress code should be categorized as “formal,” “professional,” “business casual” or “casual,” and do a little research online for guidance as to what constitutes an acceptable dress code for your category.
  2. Provide examples. To minimize confusion and misinterpretation, provide descriptions of acceptable and unacceptable clothing items. For example, the term “sleeveless” is open to a wide range of interpretations; a “three-inch-wide shoulder strap,” however, is crystal clear. Some organizations even put together a “look book” for employees to reference, so everyone can see what’s acceptable – and what’s not. Here are a few items to consider:
    – Footwear: Are open-toed shoes, sandals or flip flops permitted?
    – Prohibited clothing items: Are halter tops, crop tops, t-shirts and sweatpants acceptable?
    – Men’s shirts: Must they be tucked in and/or collared?
    – Women’s tops: Are sleeveless shirts permissible (and what does the term “sleeveless” mean in your organization)?
    – Bottoms: Are capris and shorts allowed? What are your guidelines for skirt length?
  3. Put your dress code in writing. Your summer dress code policy should be clearly spelled out in your employee handbook – and made readily available in high-traffic areas of your workplace, as well as online.
  4. Review the policy annually. Before you switch to your summer dress code, review it in team meetings and in company communications like your newsletter. New hires may not be as familiar with your policies as veteran employees, so share the information each year.

Employees pushing the envelope too far?

When the mercury rises, employees are more likely to test the limits of what’s considered “acceptable workplace attire.” But before you call out a worker for breaking your dress code, use the tips in this post to apply your dress code policy consistently and fairly.

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